Wednesday, December 06, 2006

Turned Off By Turner?

The 2006 Turner Prize was won by Tomma Abts, Phil Collins, Mark Titchner & Rebecca Warren were the other nominees. Emma Brockes describes Abts' work beautifully in The Guardian; “Abts used to work on canvasses of all sizes, but somewhere along the line she started feeling most comfortable with a single size, a modest 19in by 15in, and has stuck with it ever since.""She paints sitting down, and the canvas fits the arc of her arm. She paints sitting down, and the canvas fits the arc of her arm. It's an agonisingly slow process, she says, and she will sometimes put a canvas away for a couple of years before returning to complete it. "They're such slow paintings to make that I think they might also be slow to look at ... that people might not really notice what's going on".""Abts' paintings are like palimpsests, multi-layered, and it gives one little jolts of pleasure to look at them, although it's impossible to say why. They require no external stimuli, no subject matter and no obvious end point." Some of her work can be seen at Gallery Giti Nourbakhsch. I like the Turner Prize and the way it makes us open our minds to art works we might otherwise have missed, I can even find meaning in the light bulbs going on and off, and have no truck with the question ‘what is art?’ Nobody asks a writer if they have written a book, they might ask if it is a novel, but that is a genre. It is a freedom of the 20th & 21st century that art doesn’t have to be tightly and stuffily defined, that it can be whatever the artist says is art. It was in 2001 that Martin Creed's light bulbs won the prize; "For the Turner Prize exhibition, Creed has decided to show Work # 227: The lights going on and off. Nothing is added to the space and nothing is taken away, but at intervals of five seconds the gallery is filled with light and then subsequently thrown into darkness. Realising the premise set out in Work # 232, Creed celebrates the mechanics of the everyday, and in manipulating the gallery's existing light fittings he creates a new and unexpected effect.
In the context of Tate Britain, an institution displaying a huge variety of objects, this work challenges the traditional methods of museum display and thus the encounter one would normally expect to have in a gallery. Disrupting the norm, allowing and then denying the lights their function, Creed plays with the viewer's sense of space and time. Our negotiation of the gallery is impeded, yet we become more aware of our own visual sensitivity, the actuality of the space and our own actions within it. We are invited to re-evaluate our relationship to our immediate surroundings, to look again and to question what we are presented with. Responding to the actual condition in which he has been asked to exhibit, Creed exposes rules, conventions and opportunities that are usually overlooked, and in so doing implicates and empowers the viewer.” Be empowered!



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